Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals
One of my favorite nonfiction picture books of 2020 is Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals by Katy S. Duffield, illustrated by Mike Orodán.
Here’s a brief description:
Around the world, bridges, tunnels, and highways help people get from one place to another. But what happens when construction spreads over, under, across, and through animal habitats? Thankfully, scientists, engineers, and construction crews have come together to create wildlife crossings to help keep animals safe.
From elk traversing a wildlife bridge across a Canadian interstate to titi monkeys using rope bridges over a Costa Rican road and salamanders creeping through tiny tunnels beneath a Massachusetts street, young readers will be inspired by the ingenious solutions that are saving the lives of countless wild animals.
Why do I love this expository literature book so much? Because it cleverly combines environmental science and engineering in a way that’s bound to engage a broad audience of young readers.
Crossings features stunning art and a dynamic list book format as well as lyrical text bursting with vivid verbs and rich language. For example, in the introduction, Duffield writes, “Around the world, in search of solutions, animal lovers come together. Openings their minds and their hearts, they work to find ideas, answers.”
Throughout the book, Duffield deftly employs the prepositions over, under across, and through to link the efforts of people who have designed and built a variety structures to keep animals safe as they travel from one part of their habitat to another.
The heart of the book is twelve spreads that use a compare-and-contrast text structure and layered text to highlight a wide range of animals and wildlife crossings from all over the world.
The larger main text presents the main idea in a single sentence, such as, “Coyotes creep OVER the rush of Arizona motorists below,” and “”Pangolins teeter-totter toward their burrows ACROSS a Singapore expressway.”
After reading these lovely, lyrical sentences, readers can enjoy several sentences of more detailed secondary text set at a smaller size. This format makes the book accessible to readers at various grade levels.
Crossings is a great addition to classroom and library book collections. It supports a variety of Next Generation Science Standards performance expectations and works well as a read aloud. It’s also makes a great mentor text for studying craft moves in informational writing.